Saturday, June 12, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010

Africa is not for sissies!

Finally we have internet! J
It took a long time to leave SA and this I found frustrating! After spending a night a ZaZoe (really stunning place) we set off again…hoping to finally leave. Jen had a whole bag of oranges with her and was told by the boys to dispose of them if she wanted to carry on with the trip – apparently elephants like citrus fruit and will trample cars to get to them. She was very popular at the petrol station where she handed all the locals a dose of vitamin C. Upon arriving at Zanzibar order post we discovered it was closed and so we backtracked…for about the fifth time on that road. Eventually we crossed into Botswana. We stayed at a freezing Elephant Sands where I had a bad experience with Bushmans Insect Repellent – it took all my nail polish off! We met Gav and Jen at breakfast looking quite proud, they had arrived somewhere before the Austin’s. Their faces fell when they realised that we had packed and were ready to go – back to 2nd.
Things slowed down considerably once we arrived in Zambia, the official at the border was very methodical and took his sweet time. We found a stunning lodge called Shackletons, I think we all wanted to park off there for a few days, great hospitality and delicious food.
Travelling to Kafue we gave out lots of soccer balls to children on the side of the road. To hear their screams and see the pure joy in their smiles when they realised that we were giving them the balls was very humbling and emotional for me. Somewhere between Muluezi and Mulanga our SA flag snapped off the car, so Gav and Jen carried on with the patriotism and put SA ‘earwarmers’ on their mirrors. There was a lot of bundu bashing and tree bending, followed by a snacky lunch in the bush for some stamina. Amongst us there are 3 garmins and no two said the same thing whilst driving on the forgotten roads of the Kafue Park. Our vehicles were attacked by tsetse flies and so we all armed ourselves with repellent. However, when Jen and I had a roadside wee, we discovered that we needed to extend our area of ‘repellent coverage’ to our bums as well! Needless to say we are still scratching! We did 220kms in 9hours. In these parts, when asking how far something is, the answer only comes in hours rather than kilometres – understandable after this experience.
We were all looking forward to Kaingu, just to relax for a few days. What a nice surprise when it turned out to be a gem, with a beautiful location and great hosts. We went fishing on the Kafue, Echtbert did the steering, Jen and I relaxed and supplied the beer and the boys fished. Gav caught a lot of fish and dad…not so much. I kept everyone entertained by getting stuck in the mud and spending the next half hour trying to find a place to wash my hands, feet and hat without sinking again. We had a delicious bush lunch with cold beers – Africa is not for sissies! Gav commented that he enjoyed fishing ‘colonial style’ – not once did he have to touch the fish that he caught. Bright helped him out and was repaid by receiving the fish for dinner. After a serious night of ‘Jameson Raiding’, dad and I went fishing with Bright again – dad refusing to leave until he had caught a fish. Finally he reeled in a silver barbel and we were allowed to moor. When the sun had relented a bit, we took a trip to the iron smelter (very interesting) and then had sundowners and snacks on Shumba Rock. We were all sad to leave, after thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
Having a drink with a very entertaining Andrew at Fringilla, he suddenly asked “Ok so who is the paedophile here?” This resulted in a roar of laughter and the explanation that we are related, both of us turning our heads ad showing our identical noses!
After Lusaka we experienced some hairy potholes! Jen’s theory proved to be very helpful – if you see skid marks, start breaking, some serious potholes will follow.
Currently we are at Kapishya hot springs, they are truly amazing and very beautiful. We explored Shiwa Ngandu this morning – very interesting - and are getting ready to watch the soccer now. Until next time…

Day 11 Alan's perspective

So much has happened since my last posting!

Once we left Shackelton's we headed off down a dirt road towards Kafue
National Park and Kiangu Lodge to do our first real bit of camping on the
trip. We intended to stay for three days.

The road was passable as dirt roads get, we passed tons of mud hut
villages. We stopped and handed out soccer balls where ever we found kids
kicking a home ball around. The home made balls are made of plastic bags
tied together to make a round object or else they use balls made of grass.
The absolute delight on the kids faces warms your heart!! Such a simple
gift but such impact.

The dirt road for the first 70 odd kilometres was pretty ok. Saw wild pigs
foraging in the mud, great sighting.
We got to a town called Mulubezi, we asked for directions and were pointed
in the general direction, it took about 15 minutes to find our way out of
the town as all that u had to follow was tracks.

The next stretch of road was definitely not expected!! I call it the road
from hell!! It was a track that our GPS guided us down, but this track has
not been used for a long, long time, it was overgrown with branches and
grass and full of ruts and corrigations.

The area was so remote it had the feeling we were really out in the wilds.
There was town marked on the GPS, Simamba, but when we got there it had
moved (who would blame them).
We got to the remote Park gate (a pole across the road) and wrote our entry
permits. The person before us had been there in April, he was a parks

We entered the park and stopped on the track for crackers and cheese. The
road was BAD, we have pictures of Gavin and I pushing large branches off
the road whilst Jenny and Jessica drove the vehicles past.

Go North Go North!! Why?

We drove past a deserted ranger post and eventually at about 18h00 we got
to Nanzhila Lodge, 260 odd kilometres in 9 HOURS. Cars are full of dust. We
had to pitched our tents for the first time. It was freezing! We sat around
the fire and cooked boerewors, sweetcorn and butternut.

Got up at 6 the next morning packed up and headed off to Kiangu Lodge.

Saw Sable, Waterbuck and Lechwe, awesome sightings.

Drove through Ngoma and Itezhi Tezhi and stopped at the dam for a coke.

Off to the ex tarred road towards Kiangu. I really hope that our roads
NEVER get like these ones!!! Down to 25 kph again!! Pot holes!! A

Eventually we got to the Kiangu turnoff but after 12 km we turned back as
the roads were to wet and frankly we did not feel like battling to get our
cars out of the mud every 5 minutes.

Took the next turnoff to the lodge and eventually we got there. What a
beautiful place!!! Situated alongside the Kafue river is this amazing place
that Tom, Vivienne and Vaughan have created!! Hopefully Gavin will get the
pictures posted today as well.

To our absolute delight Vaughan had organised that we did not have to camp
as he had upgraded us to Finfoot lodge.
The lodge is situated right next to the river and it is a very special
place to be in.

So this being Saturday we got to braai bake bread and have a drink knowing
that did not have to be up early the next morning. Lovely thought to not
have to drive again for a while.

Sunday Gavin and I repacked the vehicles to make our things more
accessible. Then repacked again! My deep freeze had packed up, all the ice
had melted!!

We packed a lunch box and went off up the river in a tinny (aluminium boat)

I got to use my new fishing tackle!! Echtbert showed me how to cast as this
is my first time fishing since I was about
Six. Gavin caught lots of fish, I caught nothing!! Was I ragged about it!

Went back to lodge, baked bread cooked chicken and yes, drank whisky.

Monday morning we relaxed and also managed to fix the deep freeze.

Jessica, Bright (old fisherman and lodge worker) went out fishing. Caught a
fish (barble). And we do have a picture to prove it.

We were taken to a very old african iron smelter and then off to watch the
sun set from a huge granite rock.

Saw puku buck.

Cooked dinner for everyone but did not bother with baking bread again.

Had a relatively quiet evening (by our standards) went to bed as we had a
early start to make on Tuesday morning.

Woke up Tuesday morning packed the car said our goodbyes and hit the track
(32 kms) out of Kaingu Lodge. Then we got onto the last stretch of dirt
road (48km at 20kph). 3 and a half hours later we hit the real tar!!!!!
What a pleasure!!

Drove to Lusaka to exchange dollars for kwachas as the petrol stations only
take kwachas. Then off to Fringilla which is a lodge, farm, butcher etc all
in one. We arrived at about 16h00 and decided to stay the night as they had
wifi and cold beers!!! Met George, Andrew and Julie. They own the place.
George is the dad and what a gentleman, such a interesting person who could
not give us enough advice about the road further into Zambia. That night at
the pub we chatted to the hooligan Andrew (son) and laughed at his stories
and his take on life.

Wednesday morning still no connectivity!! Oh well blog can wait. Andrew
took us to the butchery where we bought rump. T-bone and lamb chops for the
next few days. George took Jess and myself into the back of the butchery,
awesome watching what they do.

Then off to Kabwe.

At about 16h30 ish we came across a American lady on a bicycle in the
middle of nowhere. She waved us down and asked if we coud help her as she
still had 45km to cycle and it was getting dark. Gavin and I strapped her
bicycle on The Beast's roofrack (hey we are in Africa) and she and Jess sat
on the front seat together.

Then the S hit the fan!! Without too much warning pot holes appeared
everywhere. With my foot flat on the brakes we hit the first one with a
Thereafter the road was hell again, pot holes trucks. Ugh!! It was getting
dark and we did not want to be on the road because of the trucks and pot
holes but we still had to drop the lady off as well as find a place to

We eventually dropped her off in the middle of no where and she peddled off
into the sunset leaving us to move on the last 100km ish to where we could
stay. The last hour was done driving in the dark with trucks coming at u
without any lights, pot holes all over the place and not much of a sense of
humour. Jess had to help me spot the holes. Jenny had said just look for
the skid marks on the road as this would help see the holes.

We eventually got to our turnoff to drive the final 25 km to Muntinondo
camp site.
Arrived in the dark. Helen and Danny fed us pumpkin soup with a dash a
chilli and cherry and then bangers and mash!!! Lovely food. Everyone went
off to bed and I sat around the fire chilling.

We are now at Kapishya (Mark and Mel own it) and had a 2 and half bottle
night with Mark. Went and sat in the hot springs early this morning with
Jess - lovely and hot.

Saw the Manor House and now we are about to huddle around a TV to watch the
opening ceremony and first match.

As a final word, Jess and Gavin will also be adding their thoughts so the
blog might become repetitive for those of u following. Sorry but this way
we are recording different perspectives.

Is it not just amazing how life is?


Alan Austin
National General Manager Sales & Marketing

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Day 4 Elephant Sands

Up early and off to the Botswana boarder post Zanzibar, which was closed, so back down the road we had now travelled 4 trying to find, petrol , a bed to sleep and a open boarder post and eventually after 3 days of driving we managed to eventually to cross the first boarder post. Slept over at elephant sands, a great place if you like elephants. After dinner on our walk back to our chalet we bumped a elephant and Jen made a run for the showers. Needless to say, I could not get Jen out. Eventually I had negioate the Ellies and go and fetch the car to pick up Jen who was quite prepared to sleep inthe showers. Very cold night. Tomorrow a new country.